Sunday, February 20, 2011

Quick Cinnamon Rolls

 Homemade cinnamon rolls are so much better than the packaged variety, but most recipes involve yeast doughs with multiple hours of rise time, and who wants to get up at 3AM on the weekend to make those?

I like to make cinnamon rolls with biscuit dough.  For the dough recipe, you can be as fancy or as plain as you like.  This morning I used a recipe from the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, for two reasons: 1) I am out of Bisquick and 2) I had fresh buttermilk that needed to be used.

Yes, I mentioned Bisquick. It also makes delicious and fast homemade homemade-enough) cinnamon rolls. The process, once the roll dough is mixed, is identical to the fancier from-scratch version. Also, if you don't have Bisquick and don't have buttermilk, feel free to use any basic biscuit recipe and pick up the directions at the rolling out/buttering/cinnamon stage.

Quick Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
  • Biscuit roll dough prepared according to box or package directions (typically mix + milk), enough to make about 12 biscuits
  • 4 Tbsp melted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar*
  • 2 tsp cinnamon**
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/8 tsp salt (omit if you're using salted butter)
  • small amount of flour or biscuit mix for rolling the dough
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • approximately 1 Tsp milk.

  1. Preheat oven to 425. Grease a 8" square or 9" round cake pan.
  2. Mix sugars, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and 2Tbsp of the melted butter in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Mix the biscuit dough according to the package or recipe directions.
  4. Knead lightly on a floured surface (can use plain flour or your biscuit mix if you have extra) for about a minute. Just enough to make it look smooth instead of sticky-battery-lumpy.
  5.  Pat or roll the dough into a 9x12" rectangle.
  6. Brush the top of the dough with about half (2Tbsp) of the melted butter.
  7. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly across the entire surface of the dough, trying to get as close to the edges as you can (edges without cinnamon makes for less cinnamon-y rolls) 
  8. Starting along one long edge, tightly roll the dough into a cylinder. Having a bench scraper or thin metal spatula helps a LOT here since dough sticks to the counter even with the flour underneath it.
  9. Slice the rolls into 8 even sized rounds. I typically use a steak knife and apply extremely light pressure and lots of back-and-forth-sawing. There is some string trick that some cookbooks swear by, but it never works for me. The main thing here is to keep from smashing your beautiful spirals as you cut them.
  10. Place rolls, cut side up, in the greased baking pan and cook for about 20-25 minutes.  
  11. Mix the powdered sugar and vanilla in small bowl. Add just enough milk to make the icing pourable. This is a really teeny tiny amount. A whole teaspoon might be too much. If you do add too much milk, then add extra sugar and stir until it is the right consistency. 
  12. Remove hot rolls from the oven and cool for about 5 minutes. 
  13. Drizzle the rolls with icing and serve warm.

* You can just use brown sugar instead of both brown and white. And really, measuring is optional here. You just need enough cinnamon-sugar topping to cover your dough.
** Shameless (and un-solicited, un-compensated) plug for Penzeys Spices: I love their cinnamon with an unholy fervor. I keep 4 different varieties on hand. This morning I used 1 tsp Vietnamese Cassia (seriously deep cinnamon flavor), 1/2 tsp Chinese Cassia (mellow) and 1/2 tsp Ceylon (almost has citrus-y notes). You don't have to obsess over it as much as I do, but the results are well worth it...

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